Brian Shipman (Relevant) focuses on the theme and its echoes of the gospel. He writes, "If The Matrix was about freedom, then The Matrix Reloaded is about purpose and choice. The plot progresses powerfully, and there's a few jaw-dropping surprises and twists that will change a lot about what you assumed in episode one." Shipman praises both the special effects and the dialogue: "Like its predecessor, this movie thinks before it speaks. No matter how much you listen, there's always something new and deeper."

Ted Baehr (Movieguide) calls it "a disappointing, derivative sequel, not only on an aesthetic level, but also on a moral, philosophical, and spiritual level as well. Most disappointing of all … is the movie's failure to create a convincing portrayal of Zion, the last human city. There is no depth or character, much less variety, to this one-dimensional city's culture, which leaves one to ask the question: Why is this city worth saving?"

Holly McClure (Crosswalk) says she "enjoyed this movie more than the first one." But she shares the prevalent concern about the film's potentially damaging effects on younger viewers. "It's up to parents to be discerning for their children—no matter how old they are. What might make a lasting impression is if parents see this movie with their mature teenagers and afterwards discuss the deeper meaning of this movie."

The Phantom Tollbooth offers no fewer than three critics' reviews of the film. Marie Asner says it doesn't go anywhere: "There is a fine line between action and dialogue, and this film crosses over into maxi-action and mini-words. Perhaps the last film, Matrix: Revolution will explain everything, but right now I am beginning to doubt it."

Gareth Von Kallenbach calls it a misfire: "What I saw was a film that had some nice effects that quickly became boring as the setup … and the plot lacked cohesion."

But J. Robert Parks says the negative reports are overblown. "Is Reloaded a better movie than the original? Probably not. And there are certainly some glaring weaknesses. But the good parts are very, very good, and those are the parts that most moviegoers want to see anyway. If you don't take it too seriously, if you don't get caught up in the expectations game, you're going to have a fine time. Ignore the critics. Free your mind."

Reloaded ends with the words "To be concluded." There are loose ends everywhere you look. The Wachowskis have a lot to resolve in The Matrix Revolutions, which opens in November. You can bet the debates, interpretations, and assessments of this saga's significance will continue with renewed vigor at that time.

from Film Forum, 05/29/03

Travis Carl (Christian Spotlight) joins the host of religious press critics Film Forum quoted last week who found the second Matrix film flashy but forgettable.

Carl writes, "For those who enjoyed the Christian symbolism of the first film, prepare to be disappointed. Though the spiritual parallels (such as free will versus predestination and the way materialism blinds us to reality) are revisited, this Messiah bears no resemblance to our own. He accomplishes all of his missions through brute force and seems swayed by any mystical wind blowing his way."